2013-14 Grades for Detroit Red Wings Stars Ahead of the Olympic Break
The Red Wings have been in a battle to stay in the playoff picture, but with the help of some up-and-coming players, they have managed to stay in the fight for the eighth and final playoff spot.
But what about the Red Wings' star players? How have they been doing in advance of the Olympic break?
Here are the 2013-14 grades for the Red Wings' star players in advance of the Sochi break.
Note: These grades are determined by cumulative performance in all areas on the ice. All statistics are from NHL.com unless stated otherwise.
Pavel Datsyuk obviously has been an offensive catalyst for the Red Wings, when he is in the lineup.
Unfortunately for Detroit, the captain of Team Russia in Sochi hasn't played since the Winter Classic on January 1. However, in the 17 games leading up to that outdoor event, Datsyuk wasn't exactly stellar. Sure, he put up eight goals and six assists in those 17 contests, but he also held an unsightly minus-13 rating over that stretch.
This begs the question: Has Datsyuk lost any of the defensive abilities that helped him to win three straight Selke trophies in the past decade?
Not a chance.
The 35-year-old center has just 19 giveaways, compared to 50 takeaways, and Datsyuk still can be trusted to cover players among the best in the NHL.
Analysis: Due to no fault of his own, Datsyuk has been out of the lineup for the past month. Unfortunately, his absence has hindered the Red Wings' attempts to climb higher in the playoff picture, leaving them sitting in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Otherwise, Datsyuk has been fairly infallible in his efforts in all three zones of play.
Henrik Zetterberg has been the most dominant Detroit Red Wings player this season.
The jury should be in on that question by now, as Zetterberg has 47 points in 42 games and 11 points in his past six contests. While this would be a good total for most players through that many games, Zetterberg has missed 13 games and could have earned an even higher point total.
The heart and soul of the Red Wings lineup has helped the Red Wings' playoff bubble stay afloat.
One can't ask for more than that from a captain.
Analysis: Henrik Zetterberg has done more than his fair share of just about everything this season. The 33-year-old forward leads all forwards in total time on the ice this season and has made the most of it when he has been called upon to step up.
Niklas Kronwall has been asked to shoulder the load this season for the young Red Wings defense corps.
As Kronwall goes, so too seem to go the Red Wings.
In 24 games that the Red Wings have won this season when Kronwall plays, he has 23 points. But in 29 losses (regulation or otherwise), Kronwall has just 10 points.
Kronwall has been very solid offensively on the power play and on the penalty kill, but at times he has struggled with his breakout passes and in leading a stagnant Red Wings' breakout in his own end.
Analysis: It's more of the same for Niklas Kronwall, as far as expectations for No. 55 this season. "Kronner" has been good with the puck, but he has struggled sometimes in front of his own net and in keeping the puck out of the Detroit net. He could be better, but for how poorly some of Detroit's defensemen have looked this season, he is by far the best D-man who has suited up for the Wings.
Statistically speaking, Jimmy Howard has been awful this season. In terms of keeping the Red Wings in a playoff hunt, however, Howard has done his share.
While backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson has bested Howard in wins so far this season, Howard's 10-12-9 record still means Detroit has picked up points in 19 of the 31 games in which he's played.
While it would be hard to say he has been a star in 2013-14, the past four regular seasons have shown that Howard knows how to help his team get points when they need them.
Analysis: Howard simply hasn't been making some of the saves that he made last season. Pucks leaking through for goals and completely whiffing on regular saves has been part of the norm for Howard, but he also has been left out to dry on multiple occasions. Many is the night when Howard finds himself facing double-digit scoring chances from the other team, so he has done well to this point to keep the Red Wings where they are.